Water education builds on community efforts for sustainable development at Philippines workshop

Educators and community workers from eight countries met in the Philippines for a workshop on using water education to strengthen community efforts towards sustainable development.

Representatives from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Sweden, Japan, United States, Sri Lanka and the Philippines met at the University of the Philippines to orient participants on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) core messages, concepts, principles and values around the theme of water. Information and education materials for adaptation in communities across participating countries were reviewed and follow-up actions at local community and school levels determined.  A teaching-learning resource package entitled Water: Nature’s Precious Gift was reviewed and finalized for greater adaptability in various contexts.

The workshop, held from July 27 to 31, 2015, was organized by UNESCO’s South East Asia Center of Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development (SEA CLLSD) in collaboration with the University of the Philippines’ National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED), the Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Mathematics Education and Research (FPSMER), the Philippines National Commission for UNESCO, and Maynilad, a water and wastewater service provider for the west zone of the Greater Manila Area in the Philippines. The partners collaborated to promote education as key to addressing water-related development challenges including poor hygiene and sanitation conditions, worsening pollution of freshwater bodies, and prevalent water insecurity worldwide. The seminar also explored how the resource package could be integrated into non-formal education activities and adapted to the unique water situation of each country.

During the opening programme, Philippine Undersecretary Jan Co Chua of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, stressed how timely the project was to create awareness, especially among youth, on the role of water in improving the quality of people’s lives. UNESCO Bangkok Programme Specialists Dr Ramasamy Jayakumar and Ms Uschio Miura highlighted the imperative of improving access to safe water as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to reduce poverty levels around the globe. Dr. Lucio Sia, Executive Director of UNESCO-SEA CLLSD discussed how cooperation around water was linked to fighting poverty, hunger, and disease. He underscored the importance of water as a human right, which is directly linked to human dignity and sustainable development in society.